ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 153

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED JUNE 20, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman† ERIC HOUGHTALING

District 11 (Monmouth)

Assemblyman† WAYNE P. DEANGELO

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Assemblyman† DANIEL R. BENSON

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Assemblywoman† ANGELA V. MCKNIGHT

District 31 (Hudson)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Jasey and Assemblyman Gusciora

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Urges Congress and President to remove barriers to providing employees continuation health insurance coverage during strikes.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Assembly Resolution urging Congress and the President of the United States to remove barriers to providing employees continuation health insurance coverage during strikes.

 

Whereas, On April 13, 2016, nearly 40,000 workers employed by the telecommunications company Verizon announced a strike, organized under the leadership of the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and

Whereas, The striking workers raised a number of complaints, including Verizonís offshoring of thousands of jobs as well as an increase in the hiring of low-wage, non-union workers; and

Whereas, The workers raised other concerns as well, including being forced to work in locations that are far from their homes, often for periods of months at a time; and

Whereas, These anti-labor actions by Verizon came at a time when the company is experiencing massive profits, having posted an $8.9 billion operating profit in its wireline business last year; and

Whereas, On May 1, 2016, Verizon cancelled health benefits coverage for striking workers, which left workers without health insurance until the strike ended on June 1, 2016, with Verizon acceding to many of the strikersí demands; and

Whereas, While the strikersí unions stepped in to ensure that no striking worker went without medically necessary health care during the strike, the disruption caused by the cancellation was felt by many workers and their families, who had to go without many services, including preventative care; and

Whereas, Because Verizon provides its workforce with health insurance by self-insuring, the State of New Jersey is preempted by federal law from enacting laws that would require Verizon or other self-insured employers with striking workforces to provide continuation coverage to their workers; and

Whereas, That law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal statute that sets minimum standards for health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans; and

Whereas, When workers go on strike to stand up for their rights and to help end the outsourcing and offshoring of jobs, they should not risk losing their health care benefits in the process; and

Whereas, Requiring certain employers to provide health care continuation coverage, at least under certain circumstances, such as when an employer is in violation of the employment contract, would help strengthen workers and prevent employers from taking advantage of the workforce; and

Whereas, Congress and the President of the United States are urged to pass legislation to require continuation health insurance coverage for striking employees, at least under certain circumstances, or repeal the provisions of ERISA which preempt the State from creating its own continuation coverage requirements; now, therefore,

 

†††† Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† The General Assembly respectfully urges the Congress and President of the United States to enact legislation to require continuation health insurance coverage for striking employees or repeal the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 which preempt the State from creating its own continuation coverage requirements.

 

†††† 2.††† Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the presiding officers of the United States Congress, each of the members of the Congress elected from the State of New Jersey, and the President of the United States.

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This resolution urges Congress and the President of the United States to enact legislation to require continuation health insurance coverage for striking employees or repeal the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 which preempt the State from creating its own continuation coverage requirements.

†††† On April 13, 2016, nearly 40,000 workers employed by the telecommunications company Verizon announced a strike, organized under the leadership of the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.† The striking workers raised a number of complaints, including Verizonís offshoring of thousands of jobs to foreign countries as well as an increase in the hiring of low-wage, non-union workers.

†††† On May 1, 2016, Verizon cancelled health benefits coverage for striking workers, which left workers without health insurance until the strike ended on June 1, 2016, with Verizon acceding to many of the strikersí demands. †Because Verizon provides its workforce with health insurance by self-insuring, the State of New Jersey is preempted by federal law from enacting laws that would require Verizon or other self-insured employers with striking workforces from providing continuation coverage to their workers.

†††† When workers go on strike to stand up for their rights and to help end the outsourcing and offshoring of jobs, they should not risk losing their health care benefits in the process.† Requiring certain employers to provide health care continuation coverage, at least under certain circumstances, such as when an employer is in violation of the employment contract, would help strengthen workers and prevent employers from taking advantage of the workforce.